Almost three weeks ago, we packed up the GRP trailer and left rainy Vermont, hoping to trade the drizzle for every skier’s Thanksgiving dream- white, fluffy powder in West Yellowstone. Although the opening SuperTours weren’t supposed to be in West Yellowstone, the town was still planning to host a set of FIS races right after Thanksgiving, and the team decided it would be a good opportunity to get in some low-key race starts before the SuperTour season started.
View of the Outdoor Center in Vermont the third week of November- a little uninspiring but we got through it with lots of rain jackets. Happy to go in search of powder!
Kait thought she might save a little money on a plane ticket out west by hopping in the back of the trailer…
When the team first got to West Yellowstone, cover was a little thin and we felt like baby deer sliding around out on the icy trails, but within a few days the 2-3″ in of daily snow accumulation added up, and the skiing started to get really good. West over Thanksgiving is always a great time, with coaches, skiers, and friends from all over the country getting together on snow for the first time. We only had a few days before the races to acclimate, so we treated them more as training races and took the opportunity to practice race day routine- what to eat and when, how to test skis, warm-up routines, and dealing with pre-race nerves.
Mary, myself, and Ben enjoying a beautiful ski testing day (Photo Pepa)
We stayed in the “fox cabin” for our first week in West, and they really took their decor seriously. Fox quilts, fox stuffed animals, and about 30 fox paintings on the walls.
Even though our acclimation for the races wasn’t ideal, we still wanted to get in high-quality workouts that would prep us for the upcoming SuperTours. The techs also worked really hard to get us good skis, and everyone had solid races! In the skate 5/10k, our top results were myself (Liz) in 4th, Kait in 9th, Mary 17th, and Ben in 5th in the men’s race. We built on that the next day in the 5/10k classic, with Ben finishing 3rd, Heather 17th, Kait 6th, and I surprised myself with a win. It was nice to have our first races of the season not count towards the SuperTour totals, so we could get our feet under us without too much pressure.
Kaitlynn going tongue out in the 5k skate (Photo Katrina Howe)
It was a perfect day of classic racing for the 5k. Getting some cheers from the Sun Valley team (Photo Annie Pokorny)
We were hoping to move up to Bozeman for the first SuperTour races the following weekend, but unfortunately they didn’t get enough early snow so they had to cancel. Luckily West Yellowstone jumped in and offered to hold the SuperTour races there, and we were happy enough to stay an extra week if it meant getting to race. The whole team moved to a different rental house and had another week of perfect skiing on the Rendezvous Trails before the races.
Then it was go time! We raced a freestyle sprint on Saturday, on a short and winding course with all V2-alternate and V2 terrain. The whole team qualified for the sprint, so it was a successful morning. In the heats we didn’t do quite as well, with most of the team being eliminated in the quarterfinals. I made the semis but just missed out on the A Final, so by the end of the day everyone on the team was hungry for more. Luckily the next day we had a 10/15k classic individual, and for whatever reason our team seems to be stronger in classic. We woke up that morning to a few inches of freshly fallen snow and much more coming down from the sky, along with a howling wind. It was nothing if not an adventure, but luckily the techs gave us really good skis! The team had our best day of the season so far- Ben took 2nd in the men’s 15k, and Kait and I both made the podium in 3rd and 1st, respectively!
Recliners+internet+fireplace= all the requirements of a great rental house
Racing in my semifinal heat with some fast ladies
Thanks Coach Pepa! Happy skiers and coach after the classic race
Kaitlynn leading Caitlin Gregg through the snowstorm in the 10k (Photo Fasterskier)
Ben striding it out in the 15k (Photo Fasterskier)
Women’s podium- L to R SMS skier Katherine Ogden in 2nd, me (Liz) 1st, Kaitlynn 3rd
Hitting all the podium spots!
Big thanks to Pepa and to our wax techs Nick and Jake for working super hard to make these races happen for us. The funny thing about race season is that by the time it hits, as skiers we’ve already done most of the hard work during summer and fall training. Our job is to figure out the best way to race fast every weekend, which usually means quite a bit of recovery, mixed with some distance and speed. However, the techs do so much during the week and weekends to give us fast boards, and they definitely nailed it last weekend!
The GRP is now in Silver Star, BC getting ready for the second weekend of SuperTours. Silver Star is a winter wonderland, with frosty trees, endless perfectly groomed trails, Christmas lights everywhere, and colorful houses. We’ll be racing a classic sprint and 10/15k freestyle this weekend. Stay tuned!